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Town Officials Concerned With Snow's Cut Bridge Lane Reduction

Crews working on the Snow's Cut Bridge Rehab project. Carolina Beach is requesting all four lanes be open during the busy summer months.

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UPDATE: February 28, 2013 - Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said following a Thursday afternoon meeting with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the contractor working on resurfacing Snow's Cut Bridge will complete the two southbound lanes prior to the summer season and return in the fall to resurface the two northbound lanes. This will avoid traffic congestion that would result from reducing the four lane bridge to two lanes during the busiest time of the year.

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach Town officials are concerned with the progress of the $4.6 million dollar Snow's Cut Bridge Rehabilitation Project and are asking the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to adjust the project to avoid summer traffic congestion. Town officials are asking if the contractor, American Bridge Company, can complete resurfacing of the two southbound lanes and wait until after the summer to close the two north bound lanes.
The most recent progress report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) shows the original completion date for the project as September 29, 2013. The scheduled progress of the project as of January 31, 2012 was 38% with actual progress listed at 24.34%.
On January 30, Wayne Currie - NCDOT Engineer - explained, "The contractor, American Bridge has been busy installing their work platform beneath the bridge at Snow's Cut. The sandblasting and painting beneath the bridge should begin soon. They have also completed most of the demolition of the bridge deck in the southbound lanes and began placing concrete yesterday. The goal is to complete all the work on the decks prior to summer."
On February 20, Carolina Beach Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "At Monday's MPO meeting about NCDOT realignment I was able to discuss the Snow's Cut project with the Division 3 Engineer and her senior construction engineer and Bridge department. They are looking in to the project status and calendar. Specifically we discussed when the current two lanes being hydraulically stripped would be resurfaced with new concrete and then the need for them to stop work until next fall so we could have the use of all four lanes during the summer season. I anticipate a response this week or early next. They agreed it was important to provide the four lanes during the summer season."
On February 22, Carolina Beach Police Chief Kurt Bartley explained to Council in a weekly update that, "I have spoken with Mr. Currie with Dept of Transportation in regards to the status of the Bridge for the upcoming summer season. Mr. Currie advised that they were supposed to have a meeting next week with the Contractor, so he should know more then. He advised that they are considering finishing the side of the bridge that they are on and then coming back in the fall and start on the other side, but it is to early to tell. And the bridge itself was not in good shape at all."
Shuttleworth commented last week the contractor encountered issues during the project which caused a delay.
A meeting was tentatively scheduled for later this week on Thursday February 28, between NCDOT and Town officials.
Shuttleworth said the obvious concern is the traffic congestion that will occur due to lane reductions on the bridge amid busy summer traffic.
He said it is not likely the two southbound lanes will be completed by the Easter holiday weekend, but the Town would like to work out a plan to avoid lane reductions this summer and not frustrate tourists, residents and business owners.
Traffic on the bridge on Carolina Beach Road/U.S. 421 over the Intracoastal Waterway was reduced from four to two lanes in October to allow crews to perform extensive repair work.
The project to rehabilitate the 51-year-old bridge leading onto Pleasure Island began in September. One lane will remain open to traffic in each direction throughout the project which was expected to last approximately four months.
Cones and other traffic-control devices are in place to direct motorists using the bridge.
North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti announced in June, NCDOT awarded a $4.6 million contract to American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa. to preserve the bridge over Snows Cut on U.S. 421 in Carolina Beach. The bridge was built in the 1960's and needs attention to areas weathered by the elements over the decades.
This bridge is being rehabilitated using a new resurfacing technique called hydro-demolition. During this resurfacing process, the deteriorated concrete on the bridge deck is removed in part using high-pressure water, and the bridge will be resurfaced using high-strength concrete.
Crews began resurfacing the lanes on the west side of the bridge in late January causing traffic to slow at times.
Workers were slowing or stopping vehicles at times to avoid spray from the project blowing onto passing vehicles.
Hydro-demolition is more precise than traditional pavement removal with a jackhammer, and it reduces the potential for damage to the bridge.   In addition, hydro-demolition is safer and faster than traditional demolition methods and minimizes the impact to traffic.
In addition to hydro-demolition, the contract also includes painting of structural steel and repairs to substructure concrete. The process is designed to protect the road surface and bridge structure from the elements.